We are inside of one month until the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, when the league’s many new superstar pairings will finally be unveiled. What better way to pass the time than to count down the final 55 days by arguing over who wore each jersey number best until we reach No. 00.
There are currently 28 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 28 best?
Andrew Lang played in more No. 28 jerseys than anyone in NBA history, wearing the number for the entirety of a career spent playing on seven teams in 11 seasons
D.J. Mbenga, a two-time champion who incredibly escaped death in a Congolese prison, wore No. 28 throughout his seven-year career, winning his rings in 2008 and 2010 as a backup big behind Pau Gasol on Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers.
Leandro Barbosa, the 2007 Sixth Man of the Year and a 2015 champion, wore five different numbers for five teams in a 14-year career, only sporting No. 28 for half a season with the Indiana Pacers in 2012. The Brazilian Blur’s best seasons came wearing No. 10 with the Phoenix Suns and No. 19 for the Golden State Warriors.
Sam Cassell, the 2004 All-Star, three-time champion and inventor of the Big Balls Dance, wore No. 10 for the majority of his career, including his first two title-winning campaigns on the Houston Rockets. He did don No. 28 on his way to a third ring at age 38, playing sparingly in a backup point guard role on the 2008 Boston Celtics.
Darnell Hillman, a two-time ABA champion and the recipient of the Biggest ABA Afro award, wore a Bottle Shoppe T-shirt on his way to winning the 1977 slam dunk title because he was between NBA teams and wanted to represent the only squad he played for at the moment — a softball team sponsored by the liquor store. And he only wore No. 28 for a half-season with the New Jersey Nets later that year.
Jason Kapono, a two-time 3-point shootout champion and 2006 champion, did not turn to No. 28 until 2011-12 with the Lakers — his ninth and final NBA season.
Ian Mahinmi, finally nearing the end of his albatross contract with the Washington Wizards, is the active No. 28 jersey champion, having worn it for the entirety of an 11-year NBA career, including a 2011 championship campaign with the Dallas Mavericks. He is, of course, aided by the fact that R.J. Hunter, Alfonzo McKinnie and Donatas Motiejunas are the only other players who wore No. 28 last season.
Quinn Buckner, a winner who took home championships in high school, college, the NBA and the Olympics, wore No. 28 for three seasons with Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics, including the 1984 title campaign. He wore No. 21 for his first six seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, a run that featured four All-Defensive nominations.
Wayne Embry, a Hall of Famer, wore No. 15 for his five All-Star seasons with the Cincinnati Royals and No. 28 for the 1968 title-winning campaign on the Celtics.
The Jersey Champion
Frank Selvy, the No. 1 pick in the 1954 NBA draft after twice leading Division I in scoring and setting a record with 100 points in a single game for Furman University, wore No. 28 in his first two NBA seasons in Baltimore and Milwaukee, including his first of two All-Star campaigns. He missed the bulk of his next three seasons during an 18-month stint in the U.S. Army, and then never wore No. 28 again for the remainder of a nine-year career, which included an improbable return to stardom and an unfortunate Game 7 last-second miss that cost the Lakers the 1962 title and would have snapped Boston’s string of eight straight NBA championships in half.
Nominated for the Hall of Fame by the veterans committee this year, Selvy gets the nod here because nobody else rose to All-Star heights wearing No. 28, and he put the number and his pursuit of basketball glory aside in favor of serving his country.
We salute you, Frank.
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